The Most Dangerous Roads in the World
You may have read our article about Europe’s scariest roads. This time, we’re going global, finding the most dangerous roads across the world. Whilst driving on a twisting road with breathtaking views might break up the monotony of driving, below are the roads that you might want to avoid.
Skippers Canyon Road, New Zealand
This road, located in the south-west of New Zealand’s South Island, hangs from the side of Skippers Canyon, with a vertical drop into the Shotover River. It’s an extremely narrow, winding gravel road which was built during the gold rush in the 19th Century. The road builders blasted it out of the rockface with gunpowder and chisels, and it remains largely unchanged to this day.
The Skipper Canyon Road spans 26.5 km and is so dangerous, rental companies won’t allow you to drive on it. The road is so narrow that drivers sometimes have to reverse for up to three kilometres to find a passing place if they meet an oncoming vehicle. The local rock is soft, so the road turns to dust in the heat and mud in the rain. The views from the road are fantastic though and it would be a shame to miss them. You can usually find a local, experienced tour guide who can take you to the canyon and navigate the roads.
Fairy Meadows Road, Pakistan
The Fairy Meadows Road is located in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of northern Pakistan. It’s a high mountain road spanning 16.2 km at an altitude of 3.3 km. It was built by the villagers who lived on the Nanga Parbat Mountain hundreds of years ago and has not had much maintenance over the years. It has no guardrails and the final 9.6 km is so narrow that cars can’t access it. Travellers must instead go by foot or bicycle.
The road is only accessible during the summer months. It’s incredibly windy, only wide enough for one vehicle in many places, and it’s treacherously high. It’s advised that only those who are serious mountain lovers risk the journey. Only locals, who know how to navigate the toad, are allowed to drive on it.
Tianmen Mountain 99 Bend Road, China
The Tianmen Mountain Road is located in Zhangjiajie, in the northwestern Hunan Province in China. As the name suggests, this 11 km road has 99 bends, which symbolises the nine heavens in Chinese mythology. Building started in 1998 and the road opened for public use in 2005.
The road is around 1.3km above sea level at its highest point. The road is very narrow, including through its many tunnels. Whilst it is quite a young road when compared to others on this list, drivers may still find it gives quite a bumpy ride. The scenery is beautiful, but drivers should be careful to keep their eyes on the road and what might be coming around the next bend. If you’d rather avoid driving, there is a cable car that can take you up the mountain.
Dalton Highway, Alaska, USA
The Dalton Highway is a 666km road in northern Alaska. It was built in 1974 to support the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System. It’s named after James Dalton, an Alaskan engineer who played a key role in the construction of a system of radar stations and the early oil exploration in Alaska.
The road is one of the most isolated roads in the USA and has one of the world’s most northernmost road ends. There are only three towns along the route: Coldfoot (population of 10) at mile 175, Wiseman (population of 22) mile 188, and Deadhorse (population of 25, with 3,500+ seasonal residents) at the end of the road at mile 414. The road is mostly gravel and visibility can be very low in the winter months. Travellers are encouraged to bring survival gear on their journey, as there are very few medical facilities along the route.
Zoji La, India
The Zoji La is a high road in the Himalayas, in the Indian union territory of Ladakh. The name means “mountain pass of blizzards” which goes some way to explaining why it’s so dangerous. It’s 3.5km above sea level and spans 25.8km. This winding dirt road is very narrow and has many hairpin turns. It is said to be one of the most dangerous mountain passes in the world.
The Zoji La experiences extremes of weather, from high winds to heavy storms, which make the road muddy and even more treacherous. The road is only open in the summer months, due to heavy snowfall in the winter. A tunnel is now being built which can reduce the journey time and also allow travel in all weathers.
Yungas Road, Bolivia
The Yungas Road is in the Yungas region of Bolivia, along the eastern slope of the Andes Mountains. It is a major tourist attraction, bringing around 25,000 tourists each year to the city of La Paz, where the road begins. It was nicknamed the “road of death” due to the narrow single track, steep slopes, lack of guardrails and extreme weather. It is the only place in the country where you drive on the left, as it allows for better visibility around corners.
In 2006 an alternative, safer route was built, which widened the road to two lanes, paved it with asphalt and added guardrails and drainage. However, some vehicles still use the original road as it connects certain locations that the other doesn’t. The road is popular with cyclists, who have to be careful of oncoming traffic when taking the tight corners.
If you want to take on any of these roads, you should always assess the conditions first and take every safety precaution. Whilst some of these roads are only open to locals, you may be hiring a car on your trip to take you on safer roads. Make sure you’re protected with our worldwide car excess insurance. Don’t get stung with extortionate excess costs for your car hire, with our car hire excess insurance. Get a quote or contact us to speak about your requirements today.